Like many of the HR professionals we profile, Beth Christensen also took a nontraditional route to the world of HR. After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in marketing, Christensen took a job she thought would have her “wearing linen suits and devising strategies” and drove a delivery truck for Frito Lay.
Eventually, Christensen returned to school to pursue teaching and simultaneously worked a night shift at a hotel, where she was offered a management position.
“I was tired of struggling financially,” Christensen said. “I accepted the job, putting my education career on hold. My last role in the hotel industry involved leading training for a system conversion, where I met my husband. Once married, I finished my degree in education, ultimately earning a master’s in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in gifted education from Arizona State University. I completed my student teaching with first-grade students, secured my first contract teaching eighth-grade algebra, and ended my career in education as a gifted specialist for third- through sixth graders.”
While attending a National Charity League event, Christensen met the CEO of Duffy Group, an employment agency company, and was “intrigued by the company’s Recruitment Research model” and the flexibility provided to clients and staff.
“The company took a chance hiring me, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my role recruiting primarily for nonprofit and health care clients,” Christensen added. “Knowing that my contribution will help further our clients’ missions is rewarding.”
Since 2019, Christensen has served as Senior Recruiter for the Duffy Group, where she helps onboard and train new recruiters. “Once a teacher, always a teacher,” she shared with HR Daily Advisor.
“As a certified DEI recruiter, I serve as an educator, a guide and a detective, helping clients define diversity in their organizations and uncover candidates who will thrive in their distinctive cultures. When not searching for our clients’ next great hire, I mentor my colleagues on best practices in DEI recruiting.”
“My interest in diversity recruiting comes from living in every region of the United States and graduating from high school in Bahrain,” Christensen explained. “This experience opened my eyes to the value of people of varied backgrounds, cultures and thinking.”
In our latest Faces, meet Beth Christensen.
Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?
My biggest influence in recruiting is Duffy Group’s nonprofit practice leader, Colleen Neese. Colleen is an exemplary professional who authentically enjoys interacting with clients.
She asks critical questions of hiring leaders that get to the heart of the requirements of the role while looking for the soft skills that will make candidates a good fit. She is also a skilled researcher and someone who makes diversity in recruiting a priority.
Colleen is not afraid of making a tough call when speaking with clients or candidates and is adept at having difficult conversations that leave everyone with a realistic understanding of the demands of the market and open positions. She has been a phenomenal mentor, offering guidance and constructive feedback, as well as being my biggest cheerleader.
What’s your best mistake, and what did you learn from it?
My most instructive mistake came early in my teens when I learned that it is much better to be authentic and honest than to pretend you are something you aren’t. This lesson has served me well throughout adulthood and especially in my professional life. The old adage “fake it till you make it” is not my jam.
Something we do well at Duffy Group reflects the Recruitment Research mindset.
We start with a detailed intake call with the hiring manager, gathering as much information as possible about the requirements of the role, the qualifications of the candidate, and the cultural environment. Then we start our detective work to find a candidate representing the best of what they ask for.
Sometimes that detective work involves diving into the research regarding what some of the specifics mean, especially when taking on a more technical role. Once I have a handle on the role, I start calling candidates.
Right now, I am looking for a highly skilled PhD or MD with Phase 0 clinical trial and laboratory operations experience. With a BS in marketing and a master’s in curriculum and instruction, I don’t begin to pretend I know what their daily responsibilities are, but I can ask.
When speaking with candidates, they often help me learn more about their roles along the way. I am fascinated by what they do and are capable of, and it is inspiring to speak with them. I know they appreciate my candor, as well. I lead with authenticity, and while that first big mistake was a doozie, it has served me well.
What’s your favorite part about working in the industry? What’s your least favorite part, and how would you change it?
It may sound cliché, but my favorite part of working in talent acquisition is the focus on people who drive the mission and the goals of their organizations set forth by leaders. I am fortunate to work with hiring leaders to understand the requirements of the role and with the candidates to make great matches.
I especially like my clients’ focus on diversity to help them create a balanced workforce with people from many different backgrounds, experiences, and points of view.
Working primarily in the nonprofit world, my cup is filled daily with the stories behind my candidates’ passion for creating a better, safer, healthier, and equitable world for their constituents. There are so many organizations in our community whose leaders are dedicated to doing just that, and it’s a true shot of positivity every day.
The least favorite part of any recruiter’s day is when a potential candidate hangs up before you can tell them how you can add value through your conversation. Those working in nonprofit and higher education are relationship-oriented and willing to entertain a conversation if only to refer you to a colleague. It can be challenging to engage with candidates in technical fields.
We acknowledge that we know they are busy but have a great opportunity to entertain. We tell them where to find the information and arrange a more convenient time and/or phone number to call back. They appreciate our acknowledgment of their busy schedules and often create time for a conversation.
It sounds like, through your experience, you really care about people, and you want to help them feel safe and comfortable, which is important in the industry. Please elaborate here.
I have always had a service mentality and want to see people achieve their goals along whatever their journey may be. Living throughout the United States and abroad as a military brat, I have been not only a friend to people from all walks of life but also a witness to the inherent goodness in all of us and our need for connection, no matter how different we may appear.
One of the most important nuggets I gleaned from my experience in education is that people don’t learn well under stress. While it’s great to set clear expectations and hold people accountable, we all need authentic and consistent feedback to know we are on the right track and to grow.
We need to celebrate wins and have a growth mentality, with a sincere interest in the whole person—what drives them, what they are curious about, and how they’d like to grow. If a candidate’s goals fit my client’s needs, I feel like a successful matchmaker.
Letting the candidate know the process and keeping in touch lets them know you have a genuine interest in them. Letting them down is never fun, but having an authentic conversation is better than leaving them hanging.
Authenticity is key, and I have built relationships with people who weren’t the final choice for one job but ended up being the perfect fit for another. Building authentic relationships is key.
How can HR most effectively demonstrate its value to the leadership team?
As recruiters, we demonstrate our value through the candidates we deliver to clients. It’s about listening to what they need, taking a deep dive into their companies, understanding the market, and reaching beyond traditional channels to unearth candidates who are the best match for open positions and the companies that need them.
Our company uses a five-step process that does all this while being good stewards of our clients’ recruiting budgets.
Something else that is valuable is our investment in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This starts with a focused DEI program at our company that ensures pay transparency with our employees and a constant evaluation of benefits, including paid time off that enables employees to observe holidays meaningful to them and paternal leave for new fathers.
We also take the pulse of our team members through a survey to learn how we can continue to make Duffy Group a great place to work. And we look for opportunities to hire staff outside of traditional recruiting roles to create a diverse workforce with varied backgrounds, experience, and ideas.
We also invest in DEI recruiters to help our clients build a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Where do you see the industry heading in 5 years? Or, are you seeing any current trends?
There’s so much talk about artificial intelligence (AI). While technology is advantageous in reading résumés and profiles, there is no replacement for vetting candidates through engaging conversations. The human factor is especially important in recruiting senior-level leaders.
What are you most proud of?
I love how our company and industry are embracing diversity and investing in certified DEI recruiters to help clients deliver their strategic goals.